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Patriarch remains without top bodyguard

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 2
Georgia’s Catholics Patriarch Ilia II is without the head of his security service, as his top bodyguard, who was only just recently appointed to the role, Zurab Buchukuri, has quit the position.

The resignation came after scandalous developments over the Patriarchate, as a clergyman was detained for the alleged attempted murder of the Patriarch’s secretary, and later the Patriarch’s lawyer claimed that a west Georgian top spiritual Petre Tsaava aimed to “assassinate Ilia II”, defining after several days he meant “spiritual, not physical assassination.”

Buchukuri, who replaced Ilia II’s relative Soso Okhanashvili (who had to quit the post and travel to Germany after the Cyanide Case scandal), refrained from naming the reason for his leaving the service.

The head of Georgia’s Special State Protection Service, who previously protected ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, Anzor Chubinidze confirmed Buchukuri’s resignation.

“All the employees should feel comfortable where they work. Mr. Buchukuri has done his job well. He wasn’t appointed there until drawing to the end of his career,” Chubinidze said, adding that Buchukuri would continue his activities in the same state structure in another role.

Chubinidze excluded the media speculations that Buchukuri had to leave the post due to his connections with Petre Tsaava, as he is in Tsaava’s parish.

The official said that the person may head the Patriarch’s guard is now among Ilia II’s bodyguards.

Tsaava described Buchukuri as a “very reliable man” and stressed his quitting the post could be forcible, planned by some in the Patriarchate, especially those disliking Ilia II and aiming to harm him.

Bochukuri, who had serviced in the Patriarch’s guard for many years, was positively described by those disliking Tsaava as well.

Buchukuri took the post at the end of February this year, after Okhanashvili faced confrontations with the Patriarch’s Secretary Shorena Tetruashvili and several top figures in the Patriarchate.

Okhanashvili was allegedly behind the interview which revealed some illegal actions by top church figures.

Tsaava is also accusing Tetruashvili of “gaining millions” though illegal activities in the Patriarchate.